UN relief agency chief Martin Griffiths said Thursday the people of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso face violence, repeated displacement and difficulties finding sustainable livelihoods for themselves and their families.
Nearly 15 million in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso face the same struggles which is 4 million more who are in need since last January, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs that described it as an "extraordinary increase in only one year."
Griffiths said in 2022, the UN will need close to $2 billion for its humanitarian response in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.
"The confluence of conflict, climate change, increasing political instability, lack of sustainable development opportunities, and poverty are driving millions into increasingly desperate conditions. COVID-19 and its economic impact has only made it all much worse," he told senior officials meeting on the humanitarian situation in the Central Sahel.
He said violent attacks went up eight-fold in the Central Sahel between 2015 and 202, with the number of fatalities increasing more than ten-fold.
"The result is more than two million people displaced including half a million internally displaced last year alone," he said.
More than 5,000 schools are closed or non-operational, jeopardizing the future of hundreds of thousands of children as many health centers are out of service.
The number of people facing severe food insecurity has tripled in Mali and doubled in Niger compared to November 2020 as more than 8 million are expected to be affected during the lean season, according to the UN.
The Central Sahel is one of the most dangerous places in the world for aid workers.
One-third of all abductions of aid workers in the world in 2020 occurred in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, according to Griffiths.
Griffiths visited Nigeria to scale up humanitarian activities in the region.
He is expected to visit Mali and Niger in the coming months to meet those who are affected./aa